The River

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Entry Thirty-Three, March 8, 2525

An unusual missive
The nature of OneState
A raise

Dear reader, I want to relate something very bizarre.

I know it has been a long period since my last entry, but my work for the OneState Corp. has kept me unusually busy. But that is not the reason for my distress.

The reason is a note left on my desk by a coworker, a young brunette with brown eyes accented by sharp, intelligent eyebrows.

She writes (dare I reveal this here, to you, unknown reader? Yes, I must reveal all in this secret journal): “The OneState has no ethics, other than the 'ethics' of greed, hatred and domination. This fact is becoming all too apparent to a part of the public that exists in quarters of which you know nothing about. To them, the name OneState is synonymous with evil.”

I quote only a small portion of the letter.

It appears, as you will see, as I have seen, that the publicly announced information, which we craft at our stations during the hours designated by the Table of Hours, is a mask, a ruse. And yet I am an Official Recorder, tasked with managing the interface between citizen and OneState.

But this woman, whom I have loved from afar, and indeed have been with at the appointed time according to the Table of Hours and the Sexual Schedule – I trust her. I found her that night walking along the avenue during our hour for unstructured activity. We walked along the immaculate city streets, exchanging inanities about the weather (which is always hot and dry). Unable to stand the pressure building within me, I turned to her: What did it mean? What “quarters?” What evil? We know of evil. Indeed, we write about it everyday, for it is the ongoing triumph over evil for which OneState is justly celebrated. Evil exists beyond The Wall, amongst the savage enemies of happiness.

“I thought so too,” she said, “until I became politicized and radicalized. Until I finally allowed myself to ask, slowly at first: why am I here? And then the war came, against what we have been told are the backward, evil ones, and nothing has been the same. And the question grew to ‘how can I continue to contribute to this nightmare?’ ”

Her speech was impassioned, her eyes bore into mine. But then she grew quiet, downcast.

“I’ve completely lost faith in the mission of the OneState, the drive to win at all costs, the will to dominate and extricate the planet’s wealth and resources for the benefit of a small elite, to which, in the global scheme of things, we most definitely belong.

“And so I go to work in body only. And I read the writing of the revolutionaries, and even contribute to it. And I fall ever deeper into the looking glass. And the world seems to turn on a rotten axis, and the OneState seems to like it that way, and I grow increasingly alienated. And only occasionally do I put my effort into work-related tasks. And when I do my strongest desire to write – to you – comes over me. And I manage, barely, to fight it off enough to do my job. Finally, I could bare it no longer, and I risked death to leave that note at your station.”

The hour was almost up. I too risked death. I committed unscheduled, public contact and drew her to me. Her speech had resonated with hidden chords within me. The truth of it was electrifying, surging through my body. My head felt as if on a tether. A short laugh escaped my mouth. I know you’re right, I whispered. I must see you again. We must schedule a private time.


Much has changed in me since that most interesting day, although outwardly things appear the same.

With no alternatives within the OneState, we have kept our jobs. I have learned, by necessity, to wear a mask and to recite the “dogma” as the revolutionaries call it. And perhaps the most bizarre, and in a way terrifying part is this: I am still seen as a valuable asset to the OneState. For one reason only – the ability to write. To fictionalize. Yet since that fateful note, I’ve devoted myself to using that writing ability for the revolution – WHILE at work, just as she does. During this period, I’ve given OneState maybe 20 percent of my time and effort. And in the last month, I’ve received a 10 percent raise and a bonus!

So this, my friends, is a strange situation of which I am unable to fathom, and which I find frightening in its world-gone-mad aspect.

She who enlightened me is holding up bravely, although lately she doesn't seem to do so well in the morning. She says there is a way to get beyond the wall. And yet, I doubt...

My living quarters, too, have recently been expanded.

I don't know. It is late.

More anon.


An homage, with apologies, to Yevgeny Zamyatin and the futuristic novel "We."